West Sussex scoops award for outsourcing overhaul

7 August 2013

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8 August 2013 | Will Green

Buyers at West Sussex County Council have won an award after overhauling the way services are outsourced.

Over a period of 18 months, the procurement department focused on understanding the needs of service commissioners and then finding the best outsourcing solution. The nine-strong team’s efforts were recognised in the National Outsourcing Association awards.

Edward Vera-Cruz, head of procurement and contract services at the council, launched the overhaul when he stepped into the post two years ago.

“We began a process of re-engineering the whole procurement function and repositioned it for the requirements of the future,” he told SM.

“We took the focus away from a support service and moved it to a strategic sourcing function. It was less about the process and rules and regulations and more about engagement with commissioners to help them find out what they wanted.

“It was providing the engagement with commissioners to understand their needs and engaging with the market to get the market to know what we’re trying to do.

“We achieved that within a very short space of time.”

Through this work, the team achieved a 27 per cent cost reduction – equivalent to more than £5 million a year – on a business process outsourcing project involving 14 service lines. On another contract involving the government’s ‘troubled families’ programme, the team cut internal costs by a third.

The council – which has an annual procurement spend of around £500 million – was handed the Best Procurement Team award in the NOA’s inaugural Outsourcing Professional Awards, set up to recognise the talents of those working in outsourcing. The NOA said: “Outsourcing isn’t just about contracts, it’s about the people.”

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